Friday, April 27, 2007

wars and rumors of wars

Read this from Father Dan Martins. Intriguing. Frightening. By comparison, I am totally out of the loop. A consequence of being an insignificant and very young, priest. I agree with everything Father Dan says. (You will have noticed my touting of the Anglican Communion Institute's writings in the last several weeks. Also: don't miss the latest ACI piece in the "Father WB's Shared Items" box at the bottom of the sidebar.)


texanglican said...

While I agree that the prospect of departing TEC in the near future is frightening, Father, I must say that the prospect that we might still have the "E word" on our sign a year from now is more frightening still.

Litigation will come, certainly. Some of our parishioners in Ft Worth will leave us to stay with TEC, I am sure. (Trinity and St Martin in the Field will depart en masse). But if we do nothing the slow drain will continue, and may very possibly become a flood as our people lose hope of ever breaking free of 815's clutches. I do not know of a single active lay parishioner at St Vincent's who has a strong desire to stay affiliated with TEC any longer. The whole of vestry want out immediately, I am sure. And I know of only four clergy in our entire diocese whom I believe would stand with 815 against our bishop, should push come to shove.

So the question I would ask is "What is the value of continued delay?" Let us say we do not act in any way at present and wait for things to "play out". The PV scheme of the Communique is certainly dead, since KJS will never consent to the nominee put forward even if ABC ever does appoint a chairman of the Council. In fact, KJS will probably dust off her half measure PV scheme of six months ago so that there is no under foreign oversight of her PV, and this PV does little more than symbolic functions (all disciplinary matters under the canons will certainly remain with KJS, not the PV).

So sometime after Sept 30 ABC will call another primates meeting to determine whether or not TEC is officially in violation of the Communique. What are the odds they will convene before Christmas? Slim. (You know ABC and the ACO will delay as long as possible, since delay always serves the Left.) When the Primates do finally meet, the liberal provinces will say KJS's PV scheme is good enough and will claim that whatever the HOB says about the gay issue in September is good enough (remember ABC's attempted whitewash at DeS?). The Africans will say it is not. There will be another big row, which may or may not result in a walkout or in Lambeth 08 being scuttled. A real mess, to put it mildly.

I think for the good of the Communion acting now is probably best. Set up a new orthodox province immediately. Make it an actual fact on the ground. My guess is that ++Venables, ++Kolini, ++Akinola, and several other GS primates will recognize it as legitimate right off the bat. Let Lambeth 08 or a subsequent Primates' meeting sort out how the two rival North American provinces claims stack up. My guess is that the orthodox province will get more support worldwide.

Not doing anything simply means waiting until summer of 08, at the earliest, for any help. That is too long. People need help immediately. Act now, let the lawsuits fly, and move ahead. It is time, Father.

father wb said...


I agree that generally the sooner the better. However, I believe we should stick to the Dar es Salaam Communique for the reasons outlined in the ACI's latest piece. Chiefly because it was unanimously endorsed by the primates, and doing anything else could divide them, and thereby weaken our position, and destabilize the Communion. The DeS communique has the widest support, and is the only road map we've got. The fact that TEC doesn't support it doesn't matter. TEC doesn't support the more precipitous alternatives, and yet you are advocating them. So why insist that one is DOA because TEC doesn't support it and not the other?

Also, waiting till after Sept. 30 will demonstrate that we are playing by the rules (of the Primates) and that TEC is not. If we act apart from the DeS Communique, it becomes a free-for-all. Everyone is acting by their own rules. Also, waiting will provide an opportunity for the Network to act together (and possibly other Windsor bishops), and there is strength in numbers. As it is, there will yet be orthodox (and semi-orthodox) dioceses left solidly within TEC. Some dioceses will have left, and there will yet be CANA and AMiA. The ecclesial chaos will be exacerbated, whereas the Communique provides a framework for bringing all the various orthodox jurisdictions together. I worry we will wind up going the way of the Continuum (all chiefs and no indians, as one friend has put it).

Lastly, there's nothing stopping you from taking "Episcopal" off your sign now. I don't know why more orthodox parishes haven't done this already.

In general: I advise sticking with the Communique, as it is the unanimous plan of the primates, and power in the Communion is shifting to them in a big way. That TEC isn't sticking with them shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. And it shouldn't prevent us from doing so. That's the basis of this whole mess to begin with: TEC wants to do its on thing, indenpendent of the communion, and the orthodox in NA want to stick with the Communion. Well, we know the mind of the Communion in the DeS Communinque. Go with it, I say. But we won't.

father thorpus said...

We still have "Protestant Episcopal" on our sign.

texanglican said...

Fr WB, I'm afraid that the unanimity of the Communique was based entirely upon KJS's endorsement of it, which has now been revoked (in fact, she claims now that she never agreed to it in the first place!).

The primate of Canada later said expressly that the only reason he agreed at DeS was that KJS did. And of course at the HOB meeting KJS told the world that she only agreed to take the message of the Primates to the HOB, not to endorse their PV scheme itself. Without her consent and active participation, the PV scheme of the Communique is a dead letter by its own express terms.

The division of the Primates is an established fact. There never was any genuine unanimity, as KJS has made clear. Certainly Canada, Brazil & New Zealand, and probably Australia, Ireland, and several other provinces will side with TEC when push comes to shove no matter how egregious TEC's conduct is (and I fear ABC will try another whitewash as well, as he did at DeS).

The Dar es Salaam Communique was a last second compromise to keep the Communion from falling apart that last night in Africa, and it is a serious mistake to pretend it represent the united mind of the Communion. Now that KJS has tipped her hand that nothing more will come of its PV scheme, it is a total waste of precious time to pretend as if it still meant something.

KJS will certainly trot out her original PV scheme from last fall again, the liberal provinces and possibly ABC will pretend Schori's scheme is good enough to protect the orthodox (though +Duncan and +Iker both made it clear back then that it was hopelessly inadequate), and ++Akinola, ++Venables, ++Kolini will say that KJS's PV scheme is not enough. And then we will be at the now very familiar "this-is-terrible-but is-it-enough to-split-the-Communion-over" point and things will be punted again until the summer of 08.

I don't think I am alone in saying that enough is enough. We need to act. There are plenty of people, lay and clergy, who have had enough and will not stick around much longer. Think how many times we have already told them to wait: Just wait until the London Primates' meeting. Wait until Plano. Wait until Dromantine. Wait until GenCon06. Wait until Dar es Salaam. Now it will be wait until ABC calls a post Sept 30th meeting (whenever that might be)? Then what? Wait until Lambeth08? Why does that suddenly become the end of the line? (The institutionalists among the Windsor bishops will surely find another reason to delay taking action, even after Lambeth. You can bet on it.)

BTW, What if ABC doesn't invite any American bishops, orthodox or heterodox, to Lambeth? Then what do we do? (People act like Lambeth's invitation list actually means a lot, but why should we think so exactly? The whole business of who is an official "Anglican" is really pretty amorphous when you come right down to it. Why precisely do we think that if KJS and her cronies DON'T get an invite and the "Windsor" bishops DO it will actually effect a real division in TEC? I can't see that it will make any real difference who is at Lambeth at all. Eventually our leaders will actually have to do something to cut the chord to 815 themselves. No one from overseas will ever do it for us.)

The faithful Primates will back us if we act robustly to make a new orthodox province to become effective on Oct 1st, the liberals will back Schori, and the chips will fall where they may. Enough is enough! A house divided against itself cannot long stand, even if the bricks are held together with Anglican fudge!

father thorpus said...

I dunno. Anglican fudge is pretty gooey stuff.

What I don't see in all of this is consideration of the importance of the idea of Communion. TEC's claims to catholicity rest solely upon our continued communion with Canterbury. Apostolic succession has to be maintained through continuing communion - there wasn't one heretic group in the first four centuries that didn't have validly ordained and consecrated leaders: what makes us a legitimate part of the Catholic Church is our continued communion with the source of our catholicism, the see of Canterbury.

The problem with an immediate 'solution' such as Texanglican describes is that it creates a window of non-communion with Canterbury. To my mind, that's unacceptable.

When the whole Catholic church went Arian in the 4th century, there may have been plenty of 'reason' to split our branches from its root; but history shows that whoever splits, dies, as not connected to the root. Whoever stays, becomes heir to the promise of indefectibility and has the honor of helping Christ to purify His Body.

Anglicanism's claim to catholicity can only bridge the gap of the English Reformation if this is so. Our claim is that we never split from the root; rather that the root unjustly disowned us. If now we split from the branch which we've always claimed remained connected to the root, what's the point? We claim that first blood, or rather first schism, has never tainted Anglicanism. If we do this now and split from our root, no matter the reason, it will be first schism.

We can claim that it will only be temporary. Just a few short years without Catholic communion, that's all it will be. We'll get recognition from Rome (right) or Canterbury will come to its senses, or be pressured into it by the Global South (hasn't really happened yet, has it?), or we'll join with some weird other group like the Old Catholics, and that'll be a *great* witness to the Unity of Christ's church. We have a technicality, we have a technicality! As if anyone sitting in our pews for the first time cares about our technicalities. As if we'd wave an affadavit before the Divine Throne at the end of days and claim a loophole.

Any interruption of continuing Catholic communion will erode it. Plain and simple. Go it alone for a few years apart from Canterbury and you'll never want to go back. It's human nature, but not submission to the Divine. You might as well start saying the daily office in your back yard and never ever go to church again. If you'll throw away the Catholic Church on the international level, why not throw it out your own local window?

The Catholic Church is not a human institution. The Holy Eucharist is not a human institution. These things are not our own reaching for the divine reality of the Mystical church. Go be a Calvinist if you think that. We are Catholic because we believe, because we know, that the Church visible on earth is the miracle of Christ's own presence in the human world. It's the miracle that even an institution made of people and passed down through people in the human world can partake of Divine perfection.

If we fail to keep ourselves unspotted from the world, the solution is not to give up and leave the Church Catholic, even for a moment. The solution is to work to reform the Church catholic, knowing that Christ has promised that the gates of Hell will not prevail.

William Tighe said...

I just love reading fairy tales, and Fr. Thorpus's "Canterbury Tale" is indeed a lovely one. Was Joseph of Arimathea its first archbishop, then, that communion with it should have such imperative Catholic signiifcance, beyond, say, communion with Armagh, Abuja or Dublin? I wonder how the Nonjurors of the 17th and 18th centuries (1690-1807+ precisely), those great students of ecclesiastical antiquities, missed such a point. And then, too, the is the claim that "... the root unjustly disowned us" -- which is another tale, too, more like "a tall tale" than "a fairy tale." Yes, such tales are are a pleasant form of escapism, and as J. R. R. Tolkien wrote in his essay "On Fairy Stories" what thrall in bonds in a dank dungeon would not prefer to dream of dwelling at ease to contemplating his chains. But, as ever, "Natura furca expellas, tamen usque recurrit," and so too here:

William Tighe said...

Oops, "Naturam furca ...;" my bad.